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The Charade

When they promise you the moon and you know that they are taking you for a ride on the pothole ridden roads which mimic the craters. When they assure a house full of amenities, you are cocksure that your three generations will have to survive hand to mouth for fulfilling this distant dream.




And yet…

Sitting in an overcrowded bus you listen to the lofty promises that fill the air while stuck in traffic; smirking at the apathy around. It’s a satire at play where everyone knows the truth but do not want to believe it for a while. They want to exercise their right endowed to them via democracy.




Afterall…

It’s the election time when the power shifts in favor of the poor. The rich and famous are seen walking on the road. You walk into a room guarding your opinion which actually doesn’t matter and within seconds the decision of who will rule you for half a decade is smugly selected by your ink marked finger.




But you know…

The choice was never yours; it is influenced by a mirage of by-products that influence your daily life. Your co-workers, the newspapers, your religious inclination; anything and everything around. Was it a wise choice? You would have pondered only if you had the free time and inclination.There is no ethical dilemma because they all are peas of the same pod.



The least you did was - choose the lesser evil…

&&&


(Sidenote :Today were the BMC elections and hence these thoughts.)

Dummies Guide to Eavesdropping

1. Choose your location carefully.

                  Public places like garden, cafeteria, bus-stops, railway stations, malls make a great starting point for learners. You can graduate to public transport and parties once you have gained enough confidence. Immediate neighborhood, friend circle and home are the three sacred places that only professionals should venture into.

              Larger the crowd; better are your chances of eavesdropping and choosing an unsuspecting target. Always choose someone whom you can tackle if things turn ugly. People talking on the phone are the best bet for beginners.

   


2. Camouflage is the key to successful eavesdropping.

           Always carry a book/kindle and plug in a non-working headphones on your ears. Shades works best in daylight, at night it might arouse suspicion and make you look shady. Try to blend into the surrounding like a chameleon. Flashy clothes and shoes are a big no-no even if you aren't eavesdropping.

          Practice the look of ‘nonchalance’ every day in front of the mirror while brushing. Make sure no one is watching you. If you enjoy a card game, playing Poker would be immensely helpful. You know you have arrived in the scene of eavesdropping when people stop noticing you in real life.



3. Mind your body language.
  
               Never lean in or look in the direction of your source of eavesdropping. Always pretend to be disinterested and bored. If the volume of the conversation drops and you find that the source is staring at you; know that you are busted and swiftly move on to the next source.


             The book/kindle mentioned earlier helps to cover up a giggle or a laughing outburst that you may not be able to control on hearing something funny. Remember to stare into the book and not at the source and don’t make the mistake of holding the book upside down. Your cell phone can also come handy here. Pretend to have a conversation with someone; make sure you have your non-working headphones plugged in.



4. Clean your ears regularly.

                  All that matters in eavesdropping is a good pair of ears. So taking care of them is of utmost importance. Regular check-ups with your ENT as well as using ear buds are highly recommended. Cleaning them while having daily bath is a good habit which everyone will appreciate.

            A healthy ear can catch even the slightest change in the decibel and that’s the crucial point of the conversation when secrets are shared.
 


5. Learn to fine tune your frequency to juicy matters.

                  As you are mastering the art of eavesdropping, you’ll realize that not all conversations are worthy enough. You automatically will start picking up the ones that holds your interest. Family drama, mushy romantic chats, toddler talks, office banter – choose your genre and you are set.

            This may take days, months or years to master depending on your auditory capabilities. Keep practicing till it becomes a second nature to you.      



6. Never get too involved in the story/subject.

                  A professional eavesdropper never gets involved with the source and its story. “No Comment” is the mantra to be chanted if you ever feel tempted to interfere in an ongoing chat. Your lips ought to be sealed even while chanting the mantra. Don’t forget.

             Detachment is the key to become a successful eavesdropper. Studies have show that people who interfere with the normal flow of the conversation often land up in a nearby hospital.



7. Never ever confess to eavesdropping.

                  This usually happens when you think you have become a professional at eavesdropping. Usually people can’t resist the urge to share the news with loved ones or boast about it to friends and colleagues.

             We are giving you in writing that it’s totally a ‘Bad Idea’. It’s a superpower which is not to be revealed unless you want to experience alienation from your own species.



8. Do not judge a person by the conversation you just heard.

                  We need to have one moral lesson to make this a wholesome guide. This is that. The conversation that you eavesdrop is just a chapter from a biography. And you don’t get the judging rights by eavesdropping. I mean, look at you; having nothing better to do than poking your ears into someone else’s story.

            Doesn’t sound good, right? So, hence proved that nobody likes to be judged any which ways. Congratulations on becoming a better human-being. Its a freebie we are proud to share.



9. If caught, make a tactful exit.

                If you ever get caught in the act, the best POA would be to flee from the surrounding (never to be seen at least for a few weeks)In case, it’s impossible to jump off a moving bus/train, do not risk your life; instead :

a.  Apologize profusely and say the conversation reminded you of someone/an agony from the past/find a mutual ground. And who knows you might end up being good friends for life with the source.

b.  Act deaf and mute. This totally depends on your acting skills and there is a risk of getting beaten up if it fails.

c.  Say that you are a journalist on an assignment/an arts student doing a project on social life of people in the city.
    
 

10. Remember! It’s just a past-time.

            The art of eavesdropping is nothing but a waste of time and is recommended for people who are bored and have nothing interesting to do with their life at that particular moment. Nonetheless the author asks you to use the information gathered wisely (or not using it at all is the best bet) so as to avert a visit to the police station.


                                                            *******


(Teo sometimes succumbs to the temptation of eavesdropping on a boring bus ride home and that's where this idea culminated.)

Write On...

                    The start needs to be good; the one that compels the reader to explore the world that you have created. Isn’t it true? And then the characters that inhabit your world should make the reader stay, get involved and take this journey with you. Are you with me on this?



        From status messages which got likes,to random poems which are still closeted; a girl began her journey. #JustForFun. (psst…she was secretly keeping a diary which  contained everyday rants.) From her browsing history the snooper FB surreptitiously introduced her to #NanoWriMo.



So, she wrote…


“There's something about the first time, it's always special, a feeling of apprehension mixed with excitement, the fear of unknown, and the challenge to make through. You know it would be a moment to remember, to brag about or be proud of or maybe just keep it to yourself hidden in your memories, to be dusted and taken out on a fine day of nostalgia.”-Nov’13 (FB post)






         Shruti; her first character was born. She was a bit like herself and more. She was proud of her creation and excited too. 35,000 words is what she completed by the end of the month. A moment which became a memory. #SmilePlease.


Synopsis of Kabab Ki Haddi…


“Shruti, 32, a self-confessed coffee addict, was born with one purpose in life or so she believed, and that was solving people's relationship issues. She didn't believe in relationships herself, but that didn't hamper her from giving good advice. “I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it" she used to quote Lewis Carroll, when someone asked her about her relationship status.

Weaving through various relationships and their up and downs, would Shruti be able to find her own ground? Would she be able to get over her fear of commitment and turn into a believer of love? Find out more, right here!”- Goodreads.





           And then, there came a phase where she knew not what to do. She entered random contests; never to be selected. (Getting published is hard, I know.) And months trudged on. Friends were really encouraging. (Here I would like to thank- DJ, Rocky, Anu, CCF, Shafiq ) She started blogging her thoughts. Monthly musings was the cheeky name of the blog. #amwriting


At the crossroad…


She stood at the Crossroad, observing the chaos that lay around. Pondering as to which road to take and whether the road would choose her or would she get to choose the road. Looking back she sighed ‘It was an eventful journey’...and still the road to the past was open, beckoning and tempting her with the familiarity of the path...with no hurdles or ditches in sight. She could easily run back into its strong arms. But something in her resisted this urge....she looked to her right...”- Monthly Musing.




               On March 3rd 2014 (Yup, I had to check the date) the last chance to participate in LJ Idol season nine opened up. And with it came the amazing and enriching experience that I have had. Thanks to each one of you who have read, voted, given concrits and shared the love for writing with me. #NoRegrets.





Alice
-LJSignUp


This was my journey and where I’m from…What about you?

                                                                  &&&

Periodical

                 
                           
                                          My first impressions are always duh! A chubby, casually dressed female who looks lost in her own world. You can call me shy. Though I would love to be this hot girl who everyone wants to befriend and all; but mostly I keep to myself in a group. My one on one interaction is better. I am a great listener, a good adviser, a keeper of friendship and secrets. I am a happy go lucky soul to be frank.





But, this soul has a dark phase which only the near and dear ones know about. Just like the moon, I wax and wane from brightness to darkness. It’s periodic, predictable and painful. I used to blame it on my Sun-sign during my teenage years. After all, Linda Goodman prophetically stated that the Crabs are moody. And aren’t all teenagers supposed to be bitchy best? So, here I was; secretly wishing for clear and glowing skin, while using self-depreciating humor as a tool to preserve my self-esteem. While everyone found me cute, I was calling my body ugly!




These transition happens every month. And how I wish that I could turn into something magical like a fairy or a princess, or if it has to be dark - a werewolf or a vampire. (How exciting that would be!) But, nah that requires a visa to the dreamland I am told.  So, now you know why I became a writer; to bust these stupid myths about mythical creatures. And before I digress,(and you realize that I have not even started working in that direction) let me come back to the point. Yeah, it's all scripted and that too with perfection which only Nature /God (if you believe in him/her) can achieve.




So, I should have mastered this script and the drama that ensues, right? Well, No; Nada; Never have I ever felt totally in control of this wretched feeling that takes over me. It always (yes 100% success rate, can you believe?) takes me sometime to realize that I am “PMSing”. By then, I have almost pissed off half the world in vicinity. And you better not be around when this ‘Heel Turn’ happens. I can pick up an irrational fight like a pro trained for years and make you feel sorry for it. A plethora of emotions run through me keeping me frustrated,tired,irritated and not to mention moody and bloated.





This show (down) has been successfully running since puberty and has always received a standing ovulation. Well..er...I am punny, and I know ;)

                                                                             
                                                                                 &&&

On Love....

“Love Hurts”


We were basking in the sun after climbing the rickety stairs which took us to the top of the water-tank. It was our space, away from the maddening land-lady. Occasional breeze would send shivers down our spine and we would giggle like school kids. The place hopefully still keeps our secret rendezvous safe in her granite. We had our midnight parties, silent sobbing, philosophical banters, singing aloud with no reason or rhyme, getting drenched in the rains; all the silly stupid things that comprise of hostel life. Sometimes I miss those carefree moments.

               Coming back to that day, we all were lying down lost in our own thoughts, when 'A' uttered those ominous words. Why would she say that? I wondered looking at her for explanation. When she gave none, I reiterated with “No.It doesn’t, if it hurts it’s never love.”

“You’ll know,” she replied sagely. And I tossed it as yet another philosophical bullshit before we moved on to better things (eating cream and onion potato chips).

o o o



“If you truly love someone; set them free.”


Tears blur my vision as I see his smiling face across the computer screen. If he is happy, why ain’t I? Is this what true love is all about? I analyze and counter argue with myself. They say when you are really happy; your smile reaches your eyes. I needed answers. Where did I go wrong? Why was this happening to me? Lost in thoughts, my jittery hands dialed the number that stole my heart.

“It was my marriage for God sake! How do you expect me not to smile?” he said. The world came crashing down and few friends helped me to build it up back again. The experience took something away from me and replaced it with a belief that I could survive a storm.

                There are always two sides of a story; this is mine.

o o o



"When they say that the Universe is conspiring.....it's mostly your friends and family brainwashing you!!"


The whole 'Arranged Marriage' scenario is a hilarious circus which you can enjoy only from the spectator's seat. Firstly the girl and guy need to approve each other, then the parents need to get along together, plus the horoscope needs to be matched to perfection. And finally when all the parameters are met then and only then is “Love” taken into consideration.

                  Yes!  Of course, I have known people who supposedly “clicked” with the first guy/girl they met and are happily married with kids. I wasn’t that lucky. It was years of meeting Mr. Wrongs and yakking about it to my concerned friends and family that I realized that maybe I am not at all marriage material. And what I was looking for was never to be found. Because, he was already married? Nah!

      But yeah, I wasn’t ready to risk my heart this time around. It was going to be arranged marriage or nothing!

o o o



"Love...something which makes you see SIGNS even when none exists!!"


He noticed me at this crossroad of life, shopping for happiness. It was plain unadulterated fun; the one that doesn’t ask for validation. Chatting with each other was the best part of the day. Nonsense was respected and it took off the load that life was throwing at me. I was avoiding love at all cost and here it was right in front of me tempting me to give it a try. Did I?

              Well..er..heh…yes. I confessed my feelings. “But we are just friends.” He responded. “What about those signs?” I inquired. “Which ones?”  He seemed totally clueless. All right! Time to shut up.


Rejected. Dejected. I decided to move on. We stayed friends and also kept chatting.

o o o



“Fear is the heart of love.”


I got married in about six months of dating him. The ‘why not?’ got answered with ‘let’s give this a try’ and it worked. I still pester him about what made him decide on me after friend zoning me. “It took me some time” is all he says. So, should we call this love? I really don’t know. All I know is he cares and so do I.

              Marriage comes with its own share of doubts especially when you see them falling apart day in and day out. On television and in real life. He thinks I have trust issues, a baggage that I carry from past experience and I think he doesn’t share enough. The argument continues till wee hours of morning, till we both get tired and go to sleep.

               Each experience in life teaches you something new,this love (if I may call it that) is way different from the first one I experienced. I do fear the safety of my heart and I know that people fall out of love and sometimes it deters me from enjoying what I have right now.


“Love Hurts. It does.” And sometimes, it leaves scars behind.


O O O

Much Ado About....

         
                 
Life is an equation in which the only thing constant is the variables.




And yet, I fail to learn this simple statistics. Yours truly is a planner who plans ahead of time. Are you wondering, “What’s wrong with it?” Well, as Franklin Jones rightly noted that ‘The trouble with being punctual is that nobody’s there to appreciate it’. Most of my plans die a natural death as soon as unpredictable circumstance rears its ugly head. Blame it on Murphy; I say!







“Take it easy, babe.”

“You need to let yourself loose.”

“Too much planning ruins the fun.”

“Just live in the moment”



             
Yes! I get them a lot. Not that I don’t try. It’s really difficult trust me. I need to know where I am heading (in life/love/career); how long will I be there (so that I can boost my morale if the situation is bad or cherish it as long as it lasts if it’s good); and possibly predict the outcome (everyone loves to have a superpower, I am no exception ;)) Come to think of it most of my plans end with “And I lived happily ever after…”




Sigh! If only they worked as planned !&#!





             
So, when the great Wayne Gretzky said, “I don't skate to where the puck is. I skate to where the puck is going to be." Maybe he had a mind I own. And since evolution favored the puck; it has a change of heart in my plans and takes an altogether different trajectory. And I am left fuming like dry ice.




‘It’s plain bad puck!’





Therefore, this New Year; I have planned to not plan. How’s that for a resolution? What’s yours?



                                      &&&

Mumbai Meri Jaan !

“Ae Dil Hai Mushkil Jeena Yahan, Zara Hat Ke, Zara Bach Ke
Yeh Hai Bombay Meri Jaan"1



Living in this city for more than two decades has made me realize that I have unwittingly fallen in love with it. I may crib; I may rant; but at the end of the day I’ll stand up for the “spirit” of Mumbai and blend into the crowd to be proudly called a “Mumbaiya.” #

                    The first brush with the city can be quite intimidating; especially if you have arrived from a laid back town of leisure and pleasure. The bustling crowd which you feel is heading nowhere; the never ending traffic where every honk has a distinct shrill; the congested slums with infection thriving at every nook; it certainly make you balk and dash for a home run. You feel like a drifter in the middle of an unknown game trying to bail out yourself. It also makes you wonder about the “secret” that lies with these crackerjacks.







“Next station Bandra; Pudheel station Vandre; Agla station Baandrah”2



I don’t know whether I am a quintessential Bandra girl (she’s a pearl which can surprisingly turn into a curveball over a cup of coffee); but I grew up in the suburbs of Bandra. Nostalgia resides there now and I do visit it often.

                      Local trains are the lifeline of Mumbai. Their serpentine network runs throughout the city which never sleeps. These overcrowded bogeys magically make space for one person more. It’s a mini-world inside, comprising of the vendors selling household stuff;  a female group gossiping in the corner; someone cutting vegetable on the go; youngsters with their headphones synced to their musical world; and if you are lucky/early enough you might end up listening to the bhajans (hymns) on your way to work/home. Or better still witness a catfight that you can re-tell by including all its gory details at your clubhouse.







“Vada Pav/MisalPav/Samosa Pav/Cutting Chai malai marke.”3



“Let’s have a pow-wow over vada pav” would sum up my entire college life in Mithibai. I developed a taste for Chai in my graduation years. Leaving home at 5 am and returning back after sunset; I would have plunked, if it wasn’t for that Samosa pav to pick me up.

                    The street food of Mumbai is something every Mumbaikar # will swear by. The mouthwatering pani-puri, spicy and kicking Misal pav and of course the staple diet of every homeless guy on the pothole ridden road our very own Vada pav. There are famous Khao gullies (Eatery Streets) which people visit for their well-known delicacies.Mumbai boasts of places which are open far into the night.








“Cricket,Calamities and Celebrations.”



I have seen them all. Be it winning the Cricket World cup of 2011 and people cheering for team India at Shivaji park and Gateway of India. Or the common man picking up bits and pieces of his life after the 7/11 Bomb blasts and travelling in the same local train the next day wondering if he’ll return back to the safety of his home at night. The city nurtures a Muslim taxi driver who celebrates Ganeshostav; a Christian mother who fasts for Navratri; a Hindu boy who will keep roza with his friend and gorge on biryani to commemorate Eid.

                     These 3C’s unite the people of Mumbai into a cohesive bond. We call it “The Spirit of Mumbai.” A place where madness, chaos, humanity, serenity, love, riots all co-exists in a meshed up platter.  Where each one is trying to make it a perfect game; an inning they’ll be proud of. This is the place where dreams come true if you work hard enough and take the strike in your stride.



                                                                          &&&







# Mumbaiya / Mumbaikar = a moniker for a person living in Mumbai

1 “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil Jeena Yahan, Zara Hat Ke, Zara Bach Ke ; Yeh Hai Bombay Meri Jaan”  
 O gentle heart..life is an uphill struggle. Be alert, be streetwise; This is Bombay, my love


“Next station Bandra; Pudheel station Vandre; Agla station Baandrah”
It’s the announcement made on local trains for passengers to know. It’s repeated in English followed by Marathi and then Hindi. I choose this specific station because I used to live there and also because it is pronounced differently in all the three languages (As if one place has three names.)


“Vada Pav/MisalPav/Samosa Pav/Cutting Chai malai marke.”
   Various street foods of Mumbai.

Vada pav = Indian version of burger.
Misal Pav = a spicy curry made of sprouted moth beans mixed with fried gram cookies and peanuts to be had with bread (pav)
Samosa pav = Potato stuffed pastry placed in between the bread (pav)
Cutting chai Malai marke = Half a glass is called cutting , chai = tea, malai marke = addition of extra cream.

                             
                                                                                                  &&&&

In memory of....

               “So marumagal*, how was your day?”  These were the words that greeted me each day when I entered my new abode. “It was fine, Appa**,” was the usual response. Hearing this, his smiling face would go back to swaying his head to the beats of the music on the stereo.




               I never told him, that this small gesture of his made me feel at home. Marriage was not an easy transition. Just like any other newly married girl I was trying to adjust to the new surroundings. You usually seek a friendly support to ease you through this situation.




              Appa understood. He became that one friend. Our dinner time used to be filled with anecdotes from his younger years. The stories varied with time; most of them were from ‘Air India’ where he had spent most of his life doing double shifts in the company of good friends. Or better still the adventures of Kanyakumari with his close knit extended family. He was the one who dived in and picked up a coral for his beloved wife in Andaman on their family vacation.




              He was a fun loving guy, which everyone who has met him would agree. He loved inviting people home for Christmas and New Year; the list normally exceeded thirty (which was supposed to be the “Only close friends and family” list.) He thrived in company. Friends and Alcohol were his weaknesses; friends with alcohol meant celebration without a special occasion.




              The relationships that he built during his lifetime were his real earnings. He was that one friend who’ll do all he can if you ask for assistance. And that, is the inheritance he’s passed on. It’s been almost a year, but it still feels like yesterday. The last pleasant memory of his that I have is, on New Year’s Eve; where he’s holding a glass of whiskey smiling at friends bidding him goodbye.




               I don’t know if he was an ideal son, husband, father, uncle, grandfather or father-in-law but one thing that his friends visiting us since last one year has made me realize –


                 That he was ‘That One Friend’ who’ll be missed for life!



                                        &&&



Tamil dialect :
* Marumagal = daughter-in-law.
**Appa=father.

Are we there yet?

I like my Paneer* to be soft and juicy. The trick is to sauté it in oil and before it turns golden brown, dump it in salted-water.Juicy paneer in a rich gravy of tomato and onion can woo my heart, mind and soul. OorgaassYummmmmm! Food is my stress-buster. There is nothing in the world that something with chocolates can't solve; well er..it atleast lifts your mood up. What say? What's your go to food item?


                    Well,talking about eating reminds me....


Need to shed some kilos off my healthy body. Post marriage; I have almost gained 20kgs extra. Well ,you see,when your mom is not around to warn you of the consequences; you tend to hog yourself to glory. My love affair with food has lead people to believe that good news is 'round the stomach. I just nudge my tummy to growl a disapproving grunt, while I cheekily devour rest of the dessert.Seriously though, I have started being a bit more health conscious and I am trying to stick to a routine workout.Diet doesn't work for me,you must have realized by now!


                     Which bring me to....


The struggle of writing non-fiction. It makes you feel vulnerable, just like love.You give your cent percent hoping that the feeling will be reciprocated.Fiction, on the other hand, is like gossip; it's always about someone else.It's the fantasy you would want to live instead of talking/writing about it. Non-Fiction is raw, where no adjectives can cover up the flaws. Fiction is like the holiday you took in ages, non-fiction is about everyday wages.There is a thin line blurring the two; where a creative person can take a cue. The process is tedious as you may know. It makes you wonder when others snore -


                     Why the hell does a writer write? Simply put...


To Feel Alive !



                                                                                         &&&



*Paneer -Cottage cheese.


[Hope I did justice to this non-fiction piece. Concrits are welcomed and I am open to learning :) If you enjoyed reading this please vote for me here :http://therealljidol.livejournal.com/953518.html, username :eternal_ot]

My Experiment with non-fiction

AIM :Is to try and attempt non-fiction with the topic/s that are presented every week. It's really going to be tough especially for me(since I have only written fiction till date); but then what's life without challenges eh? ;)


APPARATUS : Life's experiences, friendly demeanour, quick-witted brain and of course, an inviting journal and a working keyboard.


PROCEDURE :Gosh! To tell you the truth, I am entirely 'Clueless'. I mean, ask any writer as to how they write and they'd pretty much answer  "I don't know, it just happens". Basically it's - Write.Edit.Repeat.
So, I am just hoping that ideas will pop open as soon as the topic/s are up (Ha! High expectations! ) or most probably I'll scour the work room, ask for help if needed; and get my entry posted by the end of the Idol week.(Phew!)



CONCLUSION : (We will cross the bridge when it comes :D) Whether I succeeded in keeping the promise of writing non-fiction or did I succumb to the charm and temptation of fiction --- only time will tell. (Psst..I have heard non-fiction too has different categories to experiment with).


DEAL BREAKER : If during the course of Idol I am unable to write a non-fiction piece OR an idea- which is fictional and is too good to give up - haunts me at night,I might break this deal :) (Keeping the escape window open ;) )



Cheers to everyone who is participating. I am really looking forward to this season and some amazing work to read. Feels like I am back to school after a mini-vacation where there is excitement of recognising old friends and catching up with them as well as the pleasure of getting to know new faces. Let's Begin!
                                        

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